“My wife, Ann, and I had been digging during the day,
transplanting lilies from the front of this abandoned farmhouse
back down the road to where we live.
We finished. She was tired and laid in the grass. I took a picture.
The house is now gone. The walnut trees have been bulldozed and burned.
I saw this picture the other day for the first time in years and realized
how photographing life within a hundred yards of my front porch
had helped me focus on everything I cared about.”
Larry Towell/Magnum Photos
By Rena Silverman Lens NYT Jun. 8, 2015
Larry Towell's business card
reads 'Human Being'.
Experience as a poet
and a folk musician
has done much to shape
his personal style.
The son of a car repairman,
Towell grew up
in a large family in rural Ontario.
During studies in visual arts
at Toronto's York University,
he was given a camera and taught
how to process black and white film.
A stint of volunteer work
in Calcutta in 1976
to photograph and write.
Back in Canada,
he taught folk music
to support himself and his family.
In 1984 he became
a freelance photographer and writer
focusing on the dispossessed, exile
and peasant rebellion.
He completed projects
on the Nicaraguan Contra war,
on the relatives
of the disappeared in Guatemala,
and on American Vietnam War veterans
who had returned to Vietnam
to rebuild the country.
His first published magazine essay,
exposed the ecological consequences
of the catastrophic Exxon Valdez oil spill
in Alaska's Prince William Sound.
He became a Magnum nominee in 1988,
and a full member in 1993.
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